Social Business Architecture

Connecting the “power of people” with enterprise technology & process to deliver business value.
  • Enterprise Architecture
  • Enterprise Collaboration
  • Social Business Strategy
  • Gamification & User Behavior
  • Community Management
  • Public Speaking

From Portal to Social Intranet - The One Stop Shop!

Everyone loves the word Portal. In fact, just thinking of the word invokes hoverboard-levels of excitement for wanting a gravity gun. If only enterprise portals could be as interesting. Sometimes referred to as a “one stop shop”, enterprise portals carry stigmas of cumbersome, over-budget and under-utilized projects. As an iPlanet/Vignette consultant (in a former life), I cannot disagree with the perception, but I feel these stigmas are in large part due to the “idea” of Portals outpacing supporting technologies.

HISTORY OF PORTALS

When portals were first introduced, the lack of standards and tools were abysmal at best. This was great for “portal developer” job security, but when it came to an industry … we were in bad shape. The first Java portlet spec was finalized in late 2003(JSR 168), and it primarily focused on interoperability and architecture of portlets. I mention this only to provide comparative context: the industry at large was more focused on standing up portal technology … than interested in people actually using it. It wasn’t until 2008 that we saw JSR 286 (discussing cross-portlet interaction models), which in my opinion was the earliest measurable acknowledgement that portals needed a better user experience to take flight. All that withstanding, portals are still here and still around. Why? It’s simple.

The value of centralized information management and dispersal is universally solid. It makes sense, and that common sense can outweigh practically anything, including ailing technology and user experience.

SOCIAL INTRANET - THE MODERN PORTAL

Nearly a decade later, social intranets and compelling user experiences are on the rise, but some organizations struggle with where they fit. If you look at the business proposition for social intranets, you see a lot in common with portals (and much more), such as:

- centralized location of information (The One Stop Shop principal)

- personalized web experiences (Dashboards, Activity Streams)

- collaboration between individuals and teams (Wikis, Blogs, Discussions, Status, Ideas, Calendars …)

- integration with disparate systems (Gadgets, Widgets, APIs, Cloud Services, … )

So when I hear someone say that they have a portal, but don’t think a social intranet is right for their company, it baffles me.

Why would you continue to invest money in something that is dying? Why is it so much more unclear to see that a better portal solutions exists in the form of a social intranet? (Note:  A real social intranet built on collaboration, mobility and user experience, not some CRUD interfaces crammed into a portal framework). After-all, unless you’ve overly invested in your portal (and most people don’t), chances are your employees use the portal out of daily conditioning more so than actual desire. Imagine the amount of employee interaction and conversation that would take place if people actually liked using a collaborative social intranet.  On the flip-side, imagine how much information you could learn about your employees (implicit and explicit) to make smarter internal decisions that resonate best with those doing the actual work.  This type of top-down/bottom-up alignment has been sought after for decades to improve company efficiency, and now the technology and generational make-up is there to make it a reality!

GETTING STARTED WITH OR WITHOUT AN EXISTING PORTAL

If you happen to be in a position where you have a portal, and are looking for something better, you should really consider a social intranet. (Same story holds true for those without a portal)  It doesn’t have to be a lights on/off scenario. Both portals and social intranets should have aspects that mirror your companies top-down structure, and for the two to co-exist during a transition, simply have your portal bring in conversations/content from matching areas in the social intranet. (for example, show recent/featured HR conversations, blog posts or announcements in the HR Portal Dashboard)  This provides a clean way to bring the new social intranet into the light, and as adoption increases, the social intranet takes hold as the new de-facto “portal”.

Who knows? In 10 years social intranets may be replaced with something even more cool, but the difference will be that social intranets will enable people to rally opinions around that change and facilitate it when the time is right!

WHAT DO YOU THINK

To change things up in 2014, I’ve decided to take to Twitter and ask people to share their thoughts on these articles. If you have thoughts on a topic, or would like to hear me voice my opinion on another topic, simply tweet to @ryanrutan with your comments, and I’ll work it into the topic list.

Next up, I’ll return to my series on making the world a better place … where I’ll dig a bit deeper into social intranets and how to cultivate win/win scenarios for your employees and company!

Make the World a Better Place Through Social Business Architecture

I have a dream. Make the World a Better Place!

As a young nerd, I used to think that my dream would manifest itself in the form of a sleek new algorithm or electronic gadget.  In my evolution from young nerd … to adult nerd … to nerd husband … to nerd father, I’ve come to realize that my dream has taken on a different shape that I never saw coming, and that is evangelizing social business architecture.

It’s a bit of an unconventional statement to say you are going to make the world a better place by talking about work, but here is my take.  Work is a necessary evil for most people, but if you like what you do, it transforms your job into an extension of your life.  As Confucius said:

Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.

Liking a job has many forms and is valued differently from person to person.  Some of these forms include:

- Physical:  Enjoying the actual activity being performed

- Mental:  Exposure to interesting and challenging problems/environments

- Emotional: Feeling of fulfillment or satisfaction 

Any one, or combination, of these factors can change the outlook/perception a person has on their day-to-day job.  The more you can reinforce these elements daily, the more you will not only improve employee satisfaction, but also their productivity.   Since 2006, Fortune has conducted an annual survey to determine the 100 Best Companies to Work For, and the recurring names on these lists suggest that there’s something to this theory.  But the fruits of these efforts do not stop at productivity, because individually there is still more to realize … and that is time.  Time to think.  Time to innovate.  Time to breathe.   By adding time to everyone’s day it helps slow the rapid pace of life, and enable people to take better control over it.  I propose that people who enjoy their work, and are empowered to take control of life, tend to be happier overall.  As a result, it improves opportunities for society to raise the bar on civility and kindness outside of the workplace, thus making the world a better place!

Challenge:  So how do we make work better for everyone?

Over the next few posts, I’ll focus on addressing this challenge for enterprise knowledge workers.  Primarily because this is the class of worker that I am most empowered to help, but also because they align with the social business architectures that we would employ, such as : enterprise social networks, social systems integrations and gamification.  First on the list will be … enterprise social networks. 

Using Social Business Architecture to Prioritize IT Projects

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Although well intended, not all technologies implemented in the enterprise adhere to their expected shelf-life.  Failing fast, dependency ridden, or limping along are all common states that tend to unbalance the alignment between IT technology portfolios and project resources to staff their implementations/upgrades. 

Most IT departments are not equipped to handle technology changes at a moments notice.   In fact, IT in some organizations is still seen as a cost center and innovation/investment opportunities are limited.  What if there was a way IT could leverage social business architecture as a way to leverage the power of the social network to help them focus on which projects are the most deserving for attention.

This is one of the reasons interchangeable cloud technologies are so attractive to modern IT management.  They allow IT departments to be more responsive, and smooth out wrinkles as they emerge, but this isn’t a complete answer.  All technologies (cloud or otherwise) fail just as much as they succeed, and balancing this constant flux of technology flowing in and out of your portfolio is difficult, because you have to answer the question:  Which technology do I fix first?

With Social Business Architecture, it is possible for IT departments to apply a methodology to answer this question while turning a blind-eye on as few areas of the business as possible.  To get started, let’s consider the following 3 questions:

How well can “the technology” integrate with the rest of my portfolio?

Is “the technology” still relevant for the intended business process?

Is “the technology” conducive to a social experience, and would it add value to provide one via your social business platform?

How well can “the technology” integrate with the rest of my portfolio?

In the modern enterprise, technologies that don’t play well with others are excess baggage.  No technology is an island, and quality business decisions require information at ready-hand to make them. If a technology doesn’t integrate well with rest of your portfolio, this is a clear sign that it should be replaced (assuming the rest of your portfolio shares a modern common-thread of integration technologies).   The urgency, of course, can be weighted on the importance of the business process that the technology enables, and/or the relative impact to employees.  If you are fortunate to have your technology support modern integration patterns, then its worth digging deeper into the next questions to see if you can capitalize on that capability.

Is ”the technology” still relevant for the intended business process?

In many cases, some technologies live on beyond their years because they are well built, flexible, and are able to stay relevant.  Which is great because it can extend the life and ROI of the project(s) that put them in place; however, letting a technology stick around too long can be risky.  This is especially true when it comes to user experience. 

Over the past 5 years, their has been a massive evolution in the capabilities of web browsers and their abilities to derive quality user experiences.  This shift has created extraordinary expectations on older technologies to stay in step with modern solutions, and leads to the perception that it no longer is a viable solution.  When making the decision on relevancy, look at the business process, data, and interactions.  While the interaction may not be pretty/convenient, does the system (as designed) still support the business process, including the ways in which you’ve grown since inception.  If a technology is unable to represent your current needs, then its probably time you replaced it, as it is no longer serving the business appropriately.  On the other hand, if all you suffer from is a user-experience deficiency and/or convenient access, then move on to Question 3 and see if a social business integration makes sense.  

Is the technology conducive to a social experience, and would it add value to provide one via your social business platform?

Asking if a technology is conducive to a social experience is sometimes cryptic, but consider the following:

- Is the process around the technology conducive to collaboration?

- Would people benefit from insights into the activity of key events from the technology?

- Does the technology have a strong URI model that enables deep-linking into the application for context-specific conversation?

If the answer to these questions are yes, then adding a social experience to this technology is not only recommended, but possibly easier than you’d think (with the right social business platform).

Based on the answers to these questions, IT professionals should have additional data to better stack rank projects.  A common theme that I’ve seen in this exercise is …

… de-prioritizing projects to replace technologies that are still relevant to the business that can benefit from a socialized experience.  Specifically around visibility into activity or enabling collaboration around the process that can be achieved with minimal to justifiable levels of effort.

Why Does This Work?

Social business platforms are all about enabling people to get their work done.  When you enable people with the right tools, it’s amazing how productive solutions like this can be.  This is more than just access to information, it’s about access to information at the right time.  Being able to collaborate about key events in a business process (as it happens) and derive a collective answer is a huge value to any company.  It saves time, money, and leads to better downstream decision making as more of your workforce is informed.  Enabling the workforce to have a more comprehensive view of what’s going on at any time should be the goal of any enterprise.  Doing so, raises the bar for individual productivity across the board, which leads to better decisions, which in turn has a massive affect on company efficiency.

In 2014, the next wave of enterprise productivity will come from IT driven initiatives that connect technology, people, and social business solutions together in a meaningful and purposeful manner.  If your IT department is NOT slated to work on connecting the enterprise, its systems and a social business platform, then you’ll probably be left behind.

Is your IT department ready?  Are you finding yourself stuck on how to apply these solutions, or get IT buy-in?  Reach out to me on Twitter ryanrutan and lets talk about how we can get you started!

The following is a sample overview of the JiveWorld13 Game Series which integrated a mobile event experience from QuickMobile with Jive's customer community and BunchBall.  The results were amazing in terms of engagement, activity and feedback!  If you want to take your user conference to the next level, definitely consider a similar pattern!
This is a classic example of making it easy and fun for people to do the right thing.  At a business-level, it distinguishes your conference experience from others around, increases loyalty, and provides more insights than a standard conference survey.  It’s what I call a Win, Win, Win!
Happy to share thoughts and brainstorm with people interested in doing similar programs!

The following is a sample overview of the JiveWorld13 Game Series which integrated a mobile event experience from QuickMobile with Jive's customer community and BunchBall.  The results were amazing in terms of engagement, activity and feedback!  If you want to take your user conference to the next level, definitely consider a similar pattern!

This is a classic example of making it easy and fun for people to do the right thing.  At a business-level, it distinguishes your conference experience from others around, increases loyalty, and provides more insights than a standard conference survey.  It’s what I call a Win, Win, Win!

Happy to share thoughts and brainstorm with people interested in doing similar programs!

Jivers Liz Brigham and Ryan Rutan will cover the evolution of Jive for Marketing — both for internal collaboration and for public marketing communities geared towards customers and partners. Come hear specifically how we are taking marketing to the next level by integrating Marketo, a marketing automation tool, into our public communities and Jive’s Purposeful Places — which gives marketers the ability to own the customer lifecycle, front to back and provide amazing customer experiences!

What is Social Business Architecture?

Social Business Architecture is the marriage of two well-known disciplines:  Enterprise Architecture and Social Business

Enterprise Architecture focuses on the high-level orchestration of systems interacting together to service a business in the most efficient manner to reduce overhead and increase productivity from the top-down.

Social Business focuses on the high-level orchestration of people interacting together to service a business in the most efficient manner to reduce overhead and increase productivity from both the top-down and the bottom-up.

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I’d like to thank everyone who contributed thought leadership, experience, insights, and perspective to the substance of this book including: … Andy Sernovitz … Bill Lynch … Brian Carr … Deirdre Walsh … Esteban Kolsky … Gia Lyons … Kathryn Everest … Mark Weitzel … Matt Tucker … Ray Wang … Ryan Rutan …

Christopher Morace, Chief Strategy Officer @ Jive Software

Transform: How Leading Companies are Winning with Disruptive Social Technology - Acknowledgments, page xi